Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2011:
"A fascinating and memorable account of a life and times difficult to imagine today."Booklist, September 15, 2011:
Leaving her poor, remote village in 1978, 11-year-old Zhongmei Li traveled an arduous three-day journey to audition for the Beijing Dance Academy. At the end of the highly competitive seven-stage competition, despite her rural background and lack of connections, she was one of the few girls selected. At the academy, a rigid dormitory supervisor and hostile teacher make life miserable for the young student, but the resolute Zhongmei survives the eight-year training and becomes a successful dancer. Written by her U.S. husband, this biography follows the steely, determined dancer through many adversities up to her academy graduation. Although the narrative is occasionally overly descriptive, it is packed with cultural information. It explains, for example, how a list of names is organized for posting, as there is no alphabetical order in Chinese. Inspiring for would-be dancers, Zhongmei Li’s gritty success story is also a revealing window into post-Mao China. — Linda PerkinsFrom the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Growing up in East Haddam, Connecticut, RICHARD BERNSTEIN always dreamed of seeing the world, and after he finished college he figured a great way to do that would be to become a newspaper reporter. So he became a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine
and then the New York Times,
which sent him—all expenses paid!—to lots of countries, including Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, and about 20 others. A Girl Named Faithful Plum
is his first book for young readers, but he's sure it won't be his last. Richard lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Zhongmei (who is Faithful Plum!), his son, Elias, and their cat, Lucky.